Combination Acts

In 1799 and 1780 William Pitt, the Prime Minister, decided to take action against political agitation among industrial workers. Combination Laws was passed making it illegal for workers to join together to press their employers for shorter hours or may pay. As a result trade unions were thus effectively made illegal.

The campaign against the Combination Acts was led by the trade union leader, Francis Place. In the House of Commons, Joseph Hume and Sir Francis Burdett led the fight against this legislation. The Combination Laws remained in force until they were revealled in 1824. This was followed by an outbreak of strikes and as a result the 1825 Combination Act was passed which again imposed limitations on the right to strike.

Thomas Rowlandson, did this drawing in 1810 Sir Francis Burdett after he had been imprisoned for his radical beliefs.
Thomas Rowlandson, did this drawing in 1810 Sir Francis Burdett after he had been imprisoned for his radical beliefs.
© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (1947)

Last spring the Germans had constructed huge tents in an open space in the Lager. For the whole of the good season each of them had catered for over 1,000 men: now the tents had been taken down, and an excess 2,000 guests crowded our huts. We old prisoners knew that the Germans did not like these irregularities and that something would soon happen to reduce our number.